Why Mental Health Days On Wednesday Were Beneficial


Lily Oliver, Paperclip Staff/Writer

During the second year of Covid at PHS (the first full academic school year with Covid), “mental health day” on Wednesdays was implemented. Many students got extra sleep, cleaned their room, and got missing assignments done on those Wednesdays. 

Guidance counselor Laurie Relinski, who has been working at PHS for 21 years, explains that during Covid she felt isolated. Relinski goes on to say that there were many kids missing from school and she was very worried about them. 

When Relinski was asked how she felt about the mental health days she said, “it was good, but should’ve been for everyone”. The mental health days on Wednesdays were only for students who were passing all of their classes and had no missing work. The students who were not passing had to come into school for extra support.

 Relinski explained that some of the students who had missing work needed the mental health days the most. Relinski believes that the mental health days benefited both students and staff. She says that if we still had Wednesdays off  “it would be fabulous, even getting rid of flex and using that time we would far exceed the minutes in school required by the state.” 

There have been suggestions from students and staff explaining that the Wednesdays off would be more beneficial if we could get students off of their screens and use the time for school-provided activities. Some examples of these activities would be yoga, outing club, internships, and the option to have the day to yourself. 

Connor Hepponstall, a senior at PHS, explains that having Wednesdays off was beneficial to him. Heptonstall explains they were beneficial because he got a break from school. Heptonstall says, “he felt more prepared going back to school after Wednesday because I got a break from schoolwork.” 

Calli Wright, a senior at PHS describes that during Covid she almost failed and had to figure things out outside of school. Wright explains that the mental health days helped her catch up on work ultimately helping her raise her grades. Wright says that schoolwork was not the only thing she used her mental health days for, she was also able to spend time with her family. 

Dana Gray, a social studies teacher who has been working at PHS for 17 years, says the faculty learned a lot from Covid. Gray describes that her online classes wanted to talk about things that had nothing to do with class. 

Gray believes the mental health days on Wednesday were beneficial because “these were real people that were staring at screens all day”. Gray says that she saw an improvement in her students’ moods throughout the rest of the week. Gray says that “kids who felt like they couldn’t do it felt like they could after Wednesdays”. Gray thinks that “the traditional 8:30-3:15 bell is so outdated and antiquated and the state needs to stop counting the number of hours we spend in school”. 

The students and teachers interviewed described quarantine as isolating with a lack of personal connection. Patrick Ganz, an English teacher who has been working at PHS for 25 years, describes his experience during Covid as having to “desensitize emotionally”. This speaks for many students and teachers who have been through school over zoom.

PHS has gone back to school full-time this year. Many students and staff are still adjusting to in-person learning. It is important to keep mental health in mind even though PHS has gone back to “normal.”